We need to talk about Serial

Serial is a spinoff podcast from This American Life. This season, the podcast's first, takes on the narrative of the 1999 murder of a Baltimore teenager. Blah blah blah, just go listen to episode 1 already, mmkay? I don't have to tell you to listen to the other episodes because once you listen to the first, you will not be able to restrain yourself from downloading the rest. You will hide from your family to listen to this podcast. You will sit in the driveway in your car to listen to this podcast. You will invent household chores to finish to listen to this podcast. And then, when you have listened to all the episodes released so far, you will write a blog post about this podcast.

My thoughts are below. Please chime in with your own.

1. The teenagers whose story is told by Serial are exactly my age, which gives me the heebie jeebies sometimes, thinking about what they were doing and what I was doing during our senior year of 1998-1999. I also totally get all the references to paging someone, and the novelty of mobile phones, and calling someone from a payphone, and the idea that a store's security system would use and re-use a VHS tape to record its CCTV.

2. This issue was addressed in episode 1 to some extent, but I am still flabbergasted that some of these kids cannot remember where they were or what they were doing the afternoon that Hae disappeared. If my recently ex-boyfriend disappeared - disappeared! - one day after school, for sure I would be thinking about where I was during that time period. Like a flashbulb memory, you know? I just can't figure out why Adnan couldn't remember whether he was at the library, at track practice, or what. I know it was just an ordinary day for those kids, but it actually wasn't - Hae disappeared that day, which, to me, seems like it should make it an absolutely extraordinary day, and therefore memorable.

3. Does it seem to anyone else like nobody in this story is telling the truth? There are problems with both Adnan and Jay's timelines. What really happened that day? Is there some kind of middle-ground truth that can be teased out of their conflicting stories? And does Serial's ability to do Jay's proposed timeline in 21 minutes (or whatever) actually prove anything? Maybe bus exiting procedure was different 15 years ago. Maybe there were more, or fewer, traffic lights. Maybe entire intersections have been redesigned or streamlined. All it would take is one anomaly to throw off the entire timeline. So I don't think that proves anything.

Two final, major issues.

4. Is Adnan guilty? I still think no. I think regular ol' high school boys do not kill their girlfriends, and there is way more going on here than meets the eye.

5. Does the show know its own ending? Sarah Koenig has said, um, not really. She says they know the overall arc, just not the way it's headed. This may be my major worry about this podcast, that it will end with some kind of "welp, isn't all truth just so nebulous!" cop-out. Because it's entirely possible - dare I say probable? - that the show will have told us this whole story but not meaningfully advanced a case for Adnan being innocent (or decisively guilty). Fingers crossed that doesn't happen.

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